*** stars (of 4)
By Christopher Pickhardt
I’ve seen a lot of movies in my years – some of which were gruesome and/or revolting, but NEVER have I seen anything quite like Kevin Smith’s TUSK, which manages to be grotesquely revolting while also provoking grand laughter.
I have wanted to see this film for some time and finally did so last night with my girlfriend. We both sat there wide-eyed and jaw-dropped at the display of creative barbarism on display here. This is a return to form for Kevin Smith – who is a filmmaker that can be hit or miss, but will always be a creative voice I admire and follow intently.
Mr. Smith is an inspiring and entertaining figure whom I respect a great deal. He is a genuine, down to earth honest guy who loves film and LOVES to talk – which may be his biggest gift in a career that has spanned 20 years now, since 1994’s CLERKS. But it is his return to film with TUSK – after a three year hiatus, that has reinvigorated him as an artist and I can see why.
TUSK is a ballsy and brave outing for a filmmaker who is best known for comedy (with the exception of 2011’s Red State) who with this film, GOES WHERE few people would choose to venture after twenty years in the film-making business. I applaud his efforts for orchestrating the madness of TUSK and for wrangling up a terrific cast to bring his insane script to life.
The film’s characters were both memorable and bizarre, with a creepy tour de force performance by Michael Parks as the film’s creepy story-telling villain and a BRAVE performance by Justin Long (who deserves special mention for enduring what must have been a grueling makeup process). Also look out for a surprise cameo role from an always bizarre actor we all love (who will remain nameless) in a fake nose! Yes, there are some very fun makeup effects in this film, which are vital to the story-line and service the BIG centerpiece and heart of the film.
TUSK features one of the most HORRIFYING images I have EVER seen in my life and much like The Human Centipede, succeeds in presenting a nightmare tale of depravity and sadism while impressing us with a top notch showcase of amazing makeup! This film will stay with you most definitely, but unlike Centipede, Tusk has many redeeming aspects – the least of which being the vast dark comedy that is peppered throughout the perilous circumstances on screen.
This is a horror film, yes, but not a scary one or one that uses gore as its main character. TUSK is in a way, a redemption story of a guy who is basically an asshole and through a life-changing (to say the least) experience, he ironically finds his humanity.
I would have given the film 3.5 stars, but there were some slow moments that brought its rating down a bit, but regardless it is one of Kevin Smith’s best efforts in a long time. Watch TUSK if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it. But if you do, just eat ice cream afterwards to make yourself feel better.